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Newsletter on the Death of a Daughter
Dearest Caring Friends and Partners,
My darling daughter Anna, 20 years old, died just a few weeks ago from injuries received in a tragic auto accident. This is probably one of the most difficult letters I have ever tried to write. The past few days and weeks would have been unbearable had not God sustained me through it.
At 4:30 a.m. on my eldest daughter Felicia's birthday, the day before my last Breakthrough miracle service before my scheduled return to South Africa, I received four phone calls in a row. Often I receive faxes from South Africa throughout the night so it was not odd for the phone to ring at that hour-- but four times in a row alerted me that something was different.
The call was coming from UCI Medical Center in Irvine, California saying that they had a young woman, a "Jane Doe", in their hospital who they believed might be my daughter, and would I please come to identify her. I was horrified, I said, there must be some mistake. It couldn't be my daughter.
Then a doctor got on the phone and said yes, they had found the ID and it was in fact my youngest daughter, Anna Berry. The medical center personnel said she had been in an auto accident and may not even survive until I got there. I made one phone call to a friend asking her to call the prayer towers and intercessors. When I arrived, I found my daughter laying on a stretcher, bloody, broken and horribly disfigured. Immediately I laid hands on her and prayed while they wheeled her upstairs and hooked her seemingly lifeless body to life support systems. Was this a nightmare -- Dear Jesus -- would I wake up from this?!
Things flashed through my mind, I couldn't believe it. How could this happen? Was this the child I had just eaten breakfast with the day before? We were about to have one of the greatest breakthroughs in our life. We had met to discuss the opening of a pet grooming shop for her where she would actually make enough to support herself. She had been working so hard, an evening job from 8:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m., sleeping 3-4 hours, off to school, then back to work another job at 1:00 p.m. She was trying to make ends meet and it was just too much for her. She had not been eating or sleeping right. I and other family members had cautioned her, and said she needed to rest.
The night of the accident, Anna had gone to dinner with a girlfriend and her brother. They had commented how tired she look and wanted her to spend the night instead of driving home. Anna declined, wanting to keep her commitment to take her last grooming class the next day and that night, while driving home, she fell asleep at the wheel and crashed on the 405 freeway.
From the moment she arrived in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit, we stayed with her, praying and fasting for her recovery. Some of God's greatest prayer warriors were there to pray. Over 60 people in the next few hours arrived to reach out and pray for Anna. Some of the Women in Ministry hid away to pray through the night at the hospital. TBN requested their partners to pray, they prayed at Prayer Mountain in Korea, intercessors in England and South Africa prayed, and from California to New York people prayed. The UCI pay phones never stopped ringing with calls for updates and instructions on how to pray daily, hourly, sometimes minute by minute for her recovery. Local newspapers carried stories of our prayer vigil.
It appeared on Thursday, after being in a coma for several days, that Anna's condition was turning around for the better. She started opening her eyes and responding to my voice and the taped cassette of her friends' messages to her. She would squeeze my hand as I would ask her questions. We were elated and sure that God was going to heal her and raise her up. We fought a good fight of faith for days but then something went tragically wrong. Anna's lungs collapsed and tore. She developed pneumonia and adult respiratory syndrome. She began to go downhill.
We took turns staying with her all through the night, praying. From the very beginning the doctor's had given us no hope but we kept praying and believing God for her healing. When morning came they tried a final procedure to aid in any possible recovery, the switching of life support systems from a single tube in her lungs to a dual tube system, enabling them to relieve the pressure on the torn lung.
I truly think her little body couldn't take anymore. Five minutes before Anna went to be with Jesus, the doctor came to me saying there was nothing more he could do. I assured him that I knew that they had also fought a good fight. Standing there, seeing Anna here with me, breathing one moment, and gone the next, is one of the hardest things I have ever gone through. I knelt beside her bed, thanking God for the precious 20 years we had together. The nurses came in and stood, watching. Everyone that had aided her was upset, even the doctors.
After leaving her room, I walked up to the other doctor and thanked him for "ushering my daughter into the presence of Jesus today." As an unbeliever he really couldn't understand why ! had peace. But I tell you, there is a peace only Jesus could give at a time like that.
They say when a parent dies you lose some of your past, but when a child dies, you somehow lose some of your future. Felicia will not have Anna in her wedding the day she gets married, nor will I ever see the grandchildren I had hoped to from Anna. She will never again be at my side ministering in South Africa. The last service I spoke at in Soweteo, the prayer line for the sick was too long for me, so I called Anna over to help. Every person she prayed for was immediately slain in the Spirit-- there was a great call on this child's life.
Anna reported bubbling over after she returned from a Zimbabwe trip back to Johannesburg. She was so cute and excited on the phone. She couldn't stop talking! She said, "Mom, you can't believe what I saw in Zimbabwe. I drove a boat down the river and saw a baby elephant swimming and playing. Hippos were also in the water and alligators. As I looked up on the river bank there was zebra and giraffe all by the trees. It was so exciting and beautiful!" She continued, "Mom, please take me wherever you go in Africa. I want to go to Kenya, Uganda, Malawai, the Congo jungle and wherever you go in Africa. Please mom will you take me with you?" Little did we know this would be her last trip.
The Eagle's Nest in Irvine was wonderful for allowing us to use their facilities for Anna's funeral. Over 250 people attended the service, about 50 of those were Anna's fellow employees. A young lady who sat behind Anna at work gave her life to Jesus at the funeral.
The service was taped and we will be happy to send a cassette to anyone who would like to receive it. Peter Rahme also held a memorial service in South Africa.
I called Charlotte Cronk who participated in our August Breakthrough service. Her secretary prayed that God would retaliate with a great retaliation of love and that ministered to me. It has been as though a great tidal wave of love from the Body of Christ has risen to cover Felicia and I, and his love has greatly been extended to us through this time. We have received many wonderful notes, cards and phone calls from all over the world expressing their love, shock and concern.
Someone asked me at the funeral if I was mad at God for allowing this to happen. Of course I'm not -- it never entered my mind. God is our friend, death is our enemy. God is our helper and our source of strength, and now my daughter resides with him forever. David said when he lost his son that his son could not come back to him but he could in fact go to where is son went. I cannot bring Anna back, though I wish I could.
When I think of how she was in intensive care, my heart breaks. A very hard thing is disconnecting the image I saw in that hospital bed from the beautiful child I raised. I have had to constantly go back to pictures of her before the accident to see how she was then and not how she looked when she died, and realize that in heaven she is safe and whole.
One thing that I have learned through this is the reality that our time here on earth is so short. Material things are meaningless. As I went through a package the hospital gave me marked "Jane Doe", I saw Anna's jewelry and personal effects. I thought of how she loved these little trinkets, yet she could not take even one of them into heaven with her. All these things we put so much emphasis on have no eternal value...only souls and what we do for the kingdom of God.
We realize many of you had not been informed. Please forgive me as I just have not been able to call most of my friends. Cheryl Hoglund spent many hours in the hospital with me and on my phone at home trying to return the calls I just could not answer.
My friends, Felicia and I need your prayers and support like never before. The funeral costs were unbelievably expensive. . . in the thousands of dollars and, needless to say, we were not prepared for such a shocking event and would be grateful for anything you could do to help us.
We will try to go on with lives that we know will never be the same,
and we won't pretend to you that it will be easy. I am, however, more
committed than ever to that statement "ONE LIFE TO LIVE, IT WILL SOON
BE PAST, ONLY WHAT'S DONE FOR CHRIST WILL LAST." I have and will learn
many, many lessons from this whole horrifying experience, but this is
the greatest lesson of all, that only what's done for Christ will last.
I am hoping to return to South Africa as soon as possible.
Many of you, like me, may find yourselves in situations that are hard to deal with and hard to bear. Let me encourage you by saying GOD IS WITH YOU THROUGH THESE TIMES!! As He was with the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace, He is with us today, holding our hand, walking us all the way until we pass through. Know too, He is walking with you to bring you victoriously through.
My Love and Appreciation to You for Caring for us,
©2005 Sondra Berry Young Ministries
P.O. Box 92802 Pasadena, California 91109